Monday 2 December 2013

Kenneth Cope

Kenneth Cope in 'Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)'

Kenneth Cope:

'Jeff! Wake up, Jeff!'

I'm including Kenneth Cope on here, although I'm aware that to a lot of TV viewers who are British and over 40, he's probably a bit of a star. For you youngsters and non-UK types, lovable rogues are a speciality of this popular Liverpudlian actor. His knack for combining cheeky confidence and nervous agitation has stood him in good stead in roles that have made him a UK cult favourite and a primetime perennial. Playing the ghostly Marty Hopkirk in the unique '60s detective show 'Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)' imprinted his face on the British psyche forever – an immaculate mod-suited spirit with childish emotions tempered by deadpan humour. He was the perfect foil to hard-boiled, two-fisted investigator Jeff Randall, as played by the late Mike Pratt.                      

As superstitious property developer Jack Victor in 'Catweazle'

Before that, he'd made a bit of a splash as the likeable petty villain Jed Stone in 'Coronation Street' in the very early days of the series, appearing first in 1961 and making comebacks in 1966 and 2008. That was followed by a period on the legendary satirical series 'That Was The Week That Was', which further ensured his '60s credentials. Other cult TV connections are 'Catweazle' ('Touch not the Wogle Stone...'), 'Doctor Who' (Tom Baker era story 'Warrior's Gate'), and two episodes of 'The Avengers' in 1967 and '68. The '80s and beyond  saw him much in demand for the likes of 'Minder', 'Bergerac', 'Lovejoy' etc, and a stint on 'Brookside'.   

In the Small Faces pop/crime caper 'Dateline Diamonds' (1965) 
As shop steward Vic Spanner in 'Carry On at Your Convenience' (1971)
In 'Miss Marple Investigates'

His movie roles include a bunch of late-'50s teen b-pictures and swinging '60s efforts where his Beatle-esque accent (often accompanied by a Beatle-esque wig) was a bonus. See for example: 'Naked Fury' (1959), the Tony Newley vehicle 'The Lady Is A Square' (1959), 'Jungle Street' (1960), 'The Criminal' (1960) with Stanley Baker, Joseph Losey's 'The Damned' (1963), and playing the Small Faces' manager in the pirate radio heist movie 'Dateline Diamonds' (1965). Later would come a string of 'Carry Ons' ('...Dick','... Matron' and '...At Your Convenience'), and the inevitable saucy comedies 'She'll Follow You Anywhere' (1971), 'Rentadick (1972) and the movie version of 'George and Mildred' (1975). 

Kenneth Cope-imdb

Monday 18 November 2013

Veronica Doran

Veronica Doran

Veronica Doran:

Back in 1983, Veronica Doran's character, Marion Willis, was part of several key storylines in the ever-popular UK soap, 'Coronation Street'. Engaged to be married to lovable dustbin man Eddie Yeats, and caught in the battle of wills between her floozy flatmate Suzi Birchall and their fading femme-fatale landlady Elsie Tanner, she led 15 million viewers on a rollercoaster ride through rough-diamond romance and backstreet bitch-fests.

In the film version of TV's 'For The Love Of Ada' (1972)

But apart from that little twinkle in the prime-time firmament, she has tended to blend a little into the background in a string of mousy comedy and dramatic roles in popular shows like: 'The Liver Birds', 'Man About the House', 'Crown Court', 'Upstairs Downstairs' and 'The Pallisers'.

Longer stints include a recurring part in the Thora Hird comedy 'In Loving Memory', as Cynthia, bigamous bride of the hapless Billy (see Christopher Beeny, Colin Farrell). She was also in the hardly-remembered nostalgic comedy 'Funny Man', with veteran comic Jimmy Jewel as
head of a music-hall family in the '20s.                  

As Marion, the future Mrs Eddie Yeats in 'Coronation Street' circa 1983

A rather regrettable scene from 'Escort Girls' (1975)

Movie-wise, she was in the enjoyably 'groovy' Tigon gorefest 'Horror House' (1969) with Frankie Avalon, and the movie spin-off of the Irene Handl series, 'For the Love of Ada' (1972), before popping up in a couple of lame '70s smutbombs 'Escort Girls' (1975 - see also David Dixon) and 'Sex Thief' (1974 - see also Diane Keen).

Veronica Doran-imdb

Tuesday 12 November 2013

David Horovitch

Actor David Horovitch, in the Agatha Christie Miss Marple as Inspector Slack

David Horovitch

A very dependable British actor with a look somewhere between Bob Hope and Droopy, He's possibly best known as eternally on-the-wrong-track Inspector Slack in 'Agatha Christie's Miss Marple', but his lugubriously expressive style has found a place in 'The New Avengers', 'Bulman', 'Boon', 'A Touch of Frost', 'Just William', 'Drop the Dead Donkey', 'Peak Practice', 'Foyle's War' and dozens of others.

The results of sneaking up on Steed at the billiard table in 'The New Avengers'

Listening to Miss Marple explain where he went wrong yet again.

On the silver screen, he's been much less ubiquitous, but can be spotted in the Disney sequel '102 Dalmatians' (2000) as Cruella DeVile's shrink, and in the odd British-set Woody Allen movie 'Cassandra's Dream' (2007) with Ewan MacGregor and Colin Farrell.

Something a bit different in the star-studded 1983 series
'The Cleopatras' as Chickpea, one of the many Ptolemys
In a long and distinguished theatre career, including work with the RSC and Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, he's covered much of the canon, from 'Charley's Aunt', 'An Inspector Calls' and 'The Importance of Being Earnest' to Ibsen, Sheridan, and of course Shakespeare.

David Horovitch-imdb

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Peter Blake

Peter Blake, actor, Dear John, Kirk St Moritz

Peter Blake: 

† Dec 8 1948 – Jul 21 2018

The tall dark and handsome type, from the same shelf as Paul Nicholas and David Essex perhaps, but not destined for top billing. Peter Blake is probably most remembered as the insufferably cocky Kirk St Moritz in the lonely hearts sitcom 'Dear John' with Ralph Bates and Belinda Lang. I seem to remember it being a genuinely jaw-dropping plot twist when Kirk was revealed to be the alter-ego of a timid sad-sack who lived with his elderly mother at the end of the series.

Other solid TV credits include 'Minder', 'The Professionals', 'Shoestring', 'Out', 'Bergerac', 'Agony' (as sleazy DJ Andy Evol), 'A Very Peculiar Practice' and a short stint in 'EastEnders' in 2010, playing Peggy Mitchell's love interest Ken Tate.

With Belinda Lang and the late Ralph Bates in 'Dear John'

With Barabara Windsor in 'EastEnders'

After drama school he started out in trendy stage productions like 'Jesus Christ Superstar', 'Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' and 'Rocky Horror', while snagging TV extra roles and working as a stage manager in Soho strip clubs. Perhaps his contacts there led to his first film part in the sex comedy 'Intimate Games' (1976) a typical affair with the usual mix of goose-pimpled dollybirds and veteran character actors (in this case, Mary Millington meets George Baker, Hugh Lloyd, Queenie Watts, and Johnny Vyvyan).   

Probably seeing some bosoms in 'Intimate Games' (1976)

In the forgotten office sitcom, 'Fiddlers Three'. A re-jigged version of 'The Squirrels'

An interesting aside: He was Eddie, the rock'n'roll revival Pepsi drinker in their successful '70s advertising campaign. Like this one.   

There was even a spin-off single… here's his performance on 'Top of the Pops'… Lipsmackin'

Peter Blake - imdb

Monday 21 October 2013

Yvonne Romain

Yvonne Romain in 'Curse of the Werewolf'

Yvonne Romain:

The delightful Ms Romain (billed as Yvonne Warren pre-1960) appeared in a number of mid-fifties to mid-sixties movies and TV shows, impressively handling 'icy and sophisticated' as easily as 'sultry and sensual'. Sadly, there are few classics among them, with Hammer's 'The Curse of the Werewolf' (1961) probably the best known. Her character doesn't live to see her son grow up into the werewolf (played by a young Oliver Reed) but the marketing appeal of her curvy figure ensures that she is shown cowering from his fangs on all the publicity material anyway.   

A young Ollie Reed prefiguring the middle-aged Ollie Reed
in 'Curse of the Werewolf' (1961).  
She's teamed up with Oliver Reed again in 'The Night Creatures' (1962) a retelling of the Dr Syn/Vicar of Dymchurch smuggling yarn starring Peter Cushing and Patrick Allen. Other interesting cinema parts include the Boris Karloff drug-addict/bodysnatcher shocker 'Corridors of Blood' (1958), Melina the lion-tamer in Circus of Horrors' (1960), b-movie fare like 'Devil Doll' (1964), the Ann-Margaret permissive society comedy 'The Swinger (1966). And then of course, there's the even-worse-than-usual Elvis Presley movie 'Double Trouble' (1967) with a rapidly declining Elvis involved in some silly European skullduggery.     
In the Peter Vaughan insurance mystery 'Smokescreen' (1965)

Twistin' in the shlocky ventriloquist horror 'Devil Doll' (1964)
On TV she shows up in 'Danger Man', 'Top Secret' and 'The Saint', but she fades from the screen after that making a last brief movie appearance as the corpse in the star-studded 'The Last of Sheila' in 1973.

Just about to be mauled by a lion in 'Circus of Horrors' (1960)

She's married to the Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse, so perhaps appearing in these lack-lustre productions lost its appeal. In some ways it's a shame, because she came perilously close to stardom - who knows what the rest of the '70s and '80s could have had in store if she's carried on acting.   

Yvonne Romain-imdb

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Diane Langton

Diane Langton:
A successful belter of stage musicals who has made a few forays into TV and movie roles since the early '70s. She was in a few moderately saucy movies during the depressing drizzly decline of the old school British cinema industry: 'Confessions of a Pop Performer' (1975), 'Carry On England' (1976), and one slightly surprisingly example of its renewal, 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover' (1989).

With Linda Regan (right) as the Climax Sisters in
'Confessions of a Pop Performer' (1975)  

As Private Easy in 'Carry On England' (1976)
 On the small screen, she's been in the 'Carry On Laughing' TV spin-off, as a sort of ersatz Barbara Windsor, 'Only Fools and Horses' as Del's old flame June, and in the revival of 'The Rag Trade' in the '70s. She's also had some regular drama roles, in 'Heartbeat', 'EastEnders' and 'Hollyoaks', for instance. 

As Ruby Rowan in 'Heartbeat'

Diane Langton-imdb

Monday 14 October 2013

John Flanagan

John Flanagan:

Firm of jaw and steely of eye, John Flanagan has played a lot of coppers in his acting career. He had his own series in the early '70s, 'Parkin's Patch' in which he played keen young PC Moss Parkin, but he also pounded the beat in 'The Sweeney' (as DS Matt Matthews), 'Softly Softly: Task Force', 'The Bill', 'Casualty' and films including 'The Naked Civil Servant' (1975) and 'The Medusa Touch' (1978).  

In Alan Plater's 1973 TV play, 'The Land of Green Ginger'

Rather older and more serious in 'Inspector Wycliffe Mysteries'

I enjoyed the Play for Today from 1973 that he stars in with Gwen Taylor – Alan Plater's 'The Land of Green Ginger'. It's a real period piece, but can be found in its entirety on YouTube: Click here.  

He's also in Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil' (1985), but I had play around with the pause button to find him.
John Flanagan - imdb

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Hugh Walters

Actor Hugh Walters in the film '1984' (1984)
Hugh Walters:

March 2nd 1939 - February 13 2015

Compact, birdlike actor with a knack for careful speech patterns. He has turned these to good use playing officious, prissy and occasionally camp comedic roles. In drama, he sticks in the memory for his bravura turn as the wheelchair-bound Vic in 'Survivors' which was neither funny nor fussy, and he was in several 'Doctor Who' stories ('The Chase', 'The Deadly Assassin' and 'Revelation of the Daleks'), as well as episodes of 'Z Cars', 'The New Avengers', 'A Fine Romance', 'The Miss Marple Mysteries', 'Rumpole of the Bailey', 'All Creatures Great and Small', 'Lovejoy' and 'Boon'. He was also Alison's father in the clever Simon Callow/Brenda Blethyn comedy 'Chance in a Million' 

In the Miss Marple TV mystery 'The Body in the Library'

With Eleanor Bron in the 1985 'Doctor Who'
story 'Revelation of the Daleks'
He appears in a few interesting movies: '1984' (1984), 'Brimstone & Treacle' (1982), 'The Missionary' (1982), the floppy Alan Price sequel to 'Alfie', 'Alfie Darling ' (1976), right back to the Terry-Thomas steampunk romp 'Rocket to the Moon' (1967), 'and the Dave Clark Five movie 'Catch Us If You Can' (1965).

In 'The New Avengers'

Hugh Walters-imdb

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Madge Hindle

Madge Hindle:

A modern archetype of the frumpy Northern busybody, largely thanks to the Lancastrian actress's two longest-running roles: as Renee Roberts (Bradshaw as was) in 'Coronation Street' and as Hylda Baker's stooge Lily Tattersall in pickle sitcom 'Nearest and Dearest' with her mute, infirm husband Walter ('Has he been?') played by Eddie Malin.

As Lily in the film version of 'Nearest and Dearest' (1972)
Since poor Renee met her end in a car crash in 'Coronation Street' in 1980, Madge Hindle has appeared in a sprinkling of roles on TV, such as the modern melodrama 'The Rector's Wife', and better than average comedies 'All Quiet on the Preston Front' and the Gwen Taylor vehicle 'Barbara'.  

Renee Bradshaw weds Councillor Roberts in 'Coronation Street'

Trivia corner: Madge's daughter, Charlotte Hindle, was co-presenter of wacky 1980s Saturday morning schedule-filler 'Get Fresh', with Gaz Top and oozing alien puppet Gilbert. Gilbert was voiced by Phil Cornwell and made by 'Spitting Image' duo Fluck & Law. As part of the design, they recycled the lips from a discarded Ringo Starr puppet.   

Madge Hindle-imdb

Thursday 3 October 2013

Donald Sumpter

Donald Sumpter:

Severe-looking character actor offering broken-nosed toughness combined with an aura of intelligence, which allows him to play parts that depict deep wisdom or low cunning with equal veracity. His only cinema starring role was as real-life murderer Dennis Neilson in the rather tasteless 'The Black Panther' (1977), but he also appears in better-known movies like the Hammer monster romp 'The Lost Continent' (1967), the sexploitative 'Groupie Girl' (1970), 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' (1971), 'Stardust' (1974), 'Enigma' (2001), 'The Constant Gardener' (2005), and 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' (2011). He's also in the early Mike Leigh film 'Bleak Moments' (1971) and the strange-looking David Hemmings movie 'The Walking Stick' (1970).        
In sleazy rocker mode in 'Groupie Girl (1970)
In spiritual mode in 'Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979)

His TV portfolio is substantial, and ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, or from 'Black Mirror', 'Our Friends in the North' and 'Jesus of Nazareth' to 'Merlin', 'Game of Thrones' and 'Holby City'. A fine all rounder.   

In the teen horror series 'Being Human'
Donald Sumpter - imdb

Monday 30 September 2013

Gary Waldhorn

Gary Waldhorn:

† July 3 1943 – Jan 10 2022

A suave, thoughtful-looking actor, probably best known these days as grumpy squire David Horton in 'The Vicar of Dibley', Mr Waldhorn actually made his TV debut in the trendy drama series 'Take Three Girls' in 1969. Although his episode is now lost, he went on to make a solid career in television through the '70s, appearing in 'Softly, Softly', 'The Sweeney', 'Space: 1999', 'The New Avengers', 'Brideshead Revisited', 'The Professionals', 'Minder', 'Robin of Sherwood', 'Rumpole of the Bailey' and 'Lovejoy'. Before 'Dibley' he was a front-room fixture in the '80s sitcom 'Brush Strokes' as Carl Howman's nemesis, Bainbridge. 

In 'Space 1999'
In 'The Professionals'

He's a very well-respected stage player, with links to the RSC and English Touring Theatre, and has graced the West End in performances alongside John Gielgud, Peter Wyngarde, Eleanor Bron and Paul Scofield. Film work has been less forthcoming (or sought for), but he does appear in Vivian Stanshall's legendary 'Sir Henry at Rawlinson End' (1980), which is a good thing in my book. 

In 'Doctor in Charge'

Gary Waldhorn-imdb

Friday 27 September 2013

Christopher Godwin

Christopher Godwin:

The pinched and narrow features of this very familiar character actor seem to have often found themselves used as a shorthand for petty bureaucrats, jobsworths and sniffy middle-class executives, but a glance at his track record shows some surprising highlights. 

Perhaps fans of TV comedy will be most conscious of his presence, as he turns up in a lot of forgotten '80s schedule-fillers: 'The Other 'Arf' with Lorraine Chase, 'South of the Border', 'Roger Doesn't Live Here Any More' and 'Nice Work' with Edward Woodward. He was in 'Holding the Fort', the sitcom with Peter Davison and Patricia Hodge as a role-reversal army couple with live-in slob, Fitz, played by Matthew Kelly. There was a starring role in the unfunny 'Astronauts', written by Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden in 1981. More interesting was the satirical north/south series 'Snakes and Ladders' from 1989. A Marks and Gran creation with Celia Imrie and John Gordon Sinclair   

Only here for the beer. With Mr McKay in
the film version of 'Porridge' (1979)
On the drama front, see him in: 'Z Cars', 'Softly Softly', 'Thomas & Sarah' and the sun-drenched 1987 TV adaptation of  'My Family and Other Animals', as well as 'The Bill' and the Daniel Radcliffe drama 'A Young Doctor's Notebook'. 

Film work includes: 'Porridge' (1979), 'A Handful of Dust' (1988) and the infamous Handmade Films debacle 'Bullshot' (1983).     
In 'A Handful of Dust' (1988)


Christopher Godwin-imdb